How to Live With Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Learning About Trauma and PTSD
It is useful for trauma survivors to learn more about PTSD and how it affects them. By learning that PTSD is common and that their problems are shared by hundreds of thousands of others, survivors recognize that they are not alone, weak, or crazy. When a survivor seeks treatment and learns to recognize and understand what upsets him or her, he or she is in a better position to cope with the symptoms of PTSD.
Talking to a Support Person
When survivors are able to talk about their problems with others, something helpful often results. Of course, survivors must choose their support people carefully and clearly ask for what they need. With support from others, survivors may feel less alone, feel supported or understood, or receive concrete help with a problem situation. Often, it is best to talk to professional counselors about issues related to the traumatic experience itself; they are more likely than friends or family to understand trauma and its effects. It is also helpful to seek out a support group. Being in a group with others who have PTSD may help reduce one's sense of isolation, rebuild trust in others, and provide an important opportunity to contribute to the recovery of other survivors of trauma.
Talking to Your Doctor About Trauma and PTSD
Part of taking care of yourself means mobilizing the helping resources around you. Your doctor can take care of your physical health better if he or she knows about your PTSD, and doctors can often refer you to more specialized and expert help.
Practicing Relaxation Methods
Relaxation methods can include things like:
- Muscular relaxation exercises
- Breathing exercises
- Listening to quiet music
- Spending time in nature.
While relaxation techniques can be helpful, they can sometimes increase distress by focusing attention on disturbing physical sensations or by reducing contact with the external environment. Be aware that while uncomfortable physical sensations may become more apparent when you are relaxed, in the long run, continuing with relaxation in a way that is tolerable (that is, interspersed with music, walking, or other activities) helps reduce negative reactions to thoughts, feelings, and perceptions.